Whether you live in a basement with the income of a ten-year-old girl or on a saffron farm in the south of Spain, the spirit of hospitality is the same. It's the giving of yourself, a present of you to them from me for us.
"Hello, and I like you." This is what you're saying when you invite somebody into your home, without having to hear yourself say it out loud. This colorfully illustrated book (see pictures) is my attempt to share with you something I take very seriously: entertaining in my home, my style. It may not be the proper way, or the most traditional, or even legal, but it works for me. I can't write good, but I can cook even better and I am willing to share with you my sackful of personal jackpot recipes that, because of their proven success, I continue to make, over and over again. I will also show you ways to plan, present, and participate in self-award-winning parties.
Even though the word "entertainment" is commonly used today, to me it sounds charmingly old-fashioned, like courtship or back-alley abortion. I like the traditional idea of entertaining, which for me means lively guests, good food, cocktails, and bubbly conversation. I'd like to bring entertaining back to these essentials. I'm not concerned with proper table settings, seating arrangements, or formal etiquette. Who can have a good time with all those rules? How can you enjoy yourself if you're worried whether you're using the right fork, or wondering whether the pumpkin is the bowl or part of the meal? I'm not trying to discourage you from being creative or encouraging you to neglect the details, but know that the nuts of any good party are the simple basics provided in a warm environment.
I tend to live my life like a deaf person. I communicate with my actions: the way I dress, the way my home is decorated, and the gifts I give all speak for me. I take this to heart when I entertain. My food, my party decorations, the games I create, and the music I play are all personal expressions. This is what will make your party special, sharing a piece of you, a feeling. It's not a competition. You don't have to be the perfect host, just the prettiest.
This is not a joke cookbook. I don't like joke cookbooks because I can't take them seriously. This book is full of real information. Most of the little I know, I learned from my mom, as well as Girl Scouts and Junior Achievements, my second first grade teacher, my family, Aunt Joyce, the backs of boxes, the lady who works at the post office, encyclopedias, the beach, bartending school, grocery stores, airports, waiting on tables, Mrs. Enchandi, nurses, sitcoms, Hugh, listening to the radio, babysitting, rock concerts, summer school, and the House Rabbit Society. I was also fascinated by two local hospitality shows: At Home with Peggy Mann and The Betty Elliot Show. I wanted to be both those women and now here's my chance, and hopefully, with the help of my book, it will be your chance as well.
Dear [your name here),
It occurred to me that I neglected to acknowledge in my first letter that not everyone is interested in hospitality. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be a hospitable person and have groups of people in your home touching your personables. Luckily, this sturdy book will also inform you on how to be the perfect guest. From the minute you say "Yes I'll be there," until the moment you say "I'm sorry, I should go," you have an important role in making a party a hit. Remember, one cannot throw a successful party without successful guests.
Dear [your name here],
I hate to be a pest, but I was concerned that perhaps in my first two letters I failed to completely convey my passion for entertaining. I go bananas for entertaining! Sometimes though, I feel entertaining is a dying art. My goal is to encourage you, [your name here], to entertain in your home, your style. Having a party is one of the most creative and generous activities that every person can enjoy and indulge in, if you're on the list. Remember, by inviting someone into your home, you're saying "I like you".
Excerpted from I Like You by Amy Sedaris Copyright © 2006 by Amy Sedaris. Excerpted by permission.
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